In the 1975 book “The Cedar Lake Story,” by Jim Prior, this house is described by Mr. Courtland Donaldson, father of Bob Donaldson, of the Bald Hill section of Hillcrest as “the first cottage on the lake tract that was built by my father, George Donaldson, on the East Side road at the top of the knoll about half way up the lake.” “…Of course it has been greatly changed and converted into a year-round house now.”
That house was called Camp Pipsissewa and was built by Donaldson in 1907. Mr. and Mrs. R.S. Koester purchased the lodge on Camp Pipsissewa in 1921. The home was purchased again in the 1950’s by Mr. & Mrs. Henry Schwehm, who lived in it over 30 years and raised their five children , enjoying all the benefits of growing up in the “summer camp” atmosphere of Cedar Lake year round. It was then purchased in 1988 by Mr. & Mrs. Peter Marshall , raising two sons in the same “lake-life” tradition, followed in 1999 by Mrs. Janet O’Neil and family. Today Pipsissewa is owned by the Steven Botarelli family.
Each owner has expanded the original log cabin, and made improvements; enclosing the porches, adding dormers and an expanded second floor, and many other additions, so that the original is barely recognizable. However, one can still find an occasional tree stump or wood beam in various parts of the still wonderful house.
Pipsissewa is an American Indian word for a low evergreen with thick green leaves and fragrant purple flowers. The Indians used the leaves to treat kidney problems. While Pipsissewa was the first house built under the newly formed Cedar Lake Park in 1907, there were several homes and farms around the lake built before 1900.